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Human and agricultural interests are in conflict with marine environmental and fisheries in the war for water in California. Dave Bitts from the SF Chronicle has a story on 1/22/09 called To save salmon, stop subsidizing toxic farming In this piece he discusses how agribusiness is draining billions of gallons a year from salmon tributaries to arid farmland.

To bring back salmon and other native fish, we must stop depleting the delta by sending millions of acre feet of water each year to the western San Joaquin Valley, where corporate megafarms pay pennies for taxpayer-subsidized water to irrigate cotton and other thirsty crops on arid lands with toxic soil. The biggest of these farms are in the Westlands Water District, long the most powerful player in the state's water politics.

Part of Dave's plan was already enacted when a superior court judge in 2007 recognized the interests of the Delta Smelt and shut down part of the California State Water Project.

A quick History of the California State Water Project. wiki

The California State Water Project, commonly known as the SWP, is the world's largest publicly built and operated water and power development and conveyance system. The SWP was designed and is operated by the California Department of Water Resources. The original purpose of the project was to provide water for arid Southern California which lacks adequate local water resources to provide for the growth the region has experienced. Today, the SWP provides drinking water for over 23 million people and generates an average 6.5 million MWh of hydroelectricity annually. However, as the largest single consumer of power in the state, its net usage is 5.1 million MWh

There are also Federal (yellow lines) and Local (green lines) (Click picture to expand)
There seem to be two main problems when it comes to the state water project's water flows to Westlands Water District.
#1 It takes waters out of natural estuaries hurting Delta Smelt and Salmon populations
#2 The methods of this agricultural district pollutes the ground water, which is then pumped into rivers and streams.
I'm going to focus on #2 in this diary. Continuing the SF Chronicle article..

Meanwhile, the state Water Resources Control Board, which is supposed to be protecting the delta fishery, has turned a blind eye to the depredations of the water export agencies, as have the state Department of Fish and Game and the governor's office.

Westlands Water District irrigates hundreds of thousands of acres of semi-arid land that is tainted with selenium, a highly toxic mineral. Irrigation causes selenium to leach out of the soil.

Twenty-five years ago, Westlands dumped its toxic wastewater at the Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge (picture by Erick Thomas), killing thousands of migratory birds. After the Kesterson disaster came to light, Westlands had a harder time evading the truth about the widespread destruction its irrigation practices caused. But the district farmers haven't learned their lesson.

Toxic Discharge Extension Sought
In an article from 12/28/2008 Jonah Owen Lamb writes that the Grassland Bypass Project wants a 10 year extension to acquire the funds for a water treatment plant. The 10 year extension would allow toxic dumping to continue into the San Joaquin and Merced River. Lamb starts with a description of that Kesterson damage in the mid 80s.

But after a widely publicized biological disaster from selenium buildup at Kesterson Reservoir where many birds and fish died, the reservoir's use as a dumping ground ended. In 1987 the reservoir was declared toxic, drained and finally capped off, according to the USGS.

In 1985 the San Joaquin Valley Drainage Program was founded to try to solve the selenium problem. Since 1995 agricultural drainage water has been channeled north through the San Luis Refuge and into the San Joaquin River -- instead of flowing into one fixed locale.

Since the mid-'90s, the quantity of toxic water has gone down, McGahan said. When the program began, about 50,000 acre-feet a year went into the San Joaquin. Now that number is down to 16,000 acre-feet a year. (An acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons of water, or what an average Valley family uses in a year.)

16000 acre.feet per year X 326,000 gallons = 5.214 Billion gallons of water per year of waste water is dumped into an assortment of rivers and streams. Can we really handle 10 more years of dumping 50 Billion gallons of water high in selenium, boron and salt into the rivers and oceans?  

Since high levels of those substances can be toxic to crops as well as wildlife, the ground water beneath crop land must be pumped down so it doesn't injure crops

While our crops in mega farms remain uninjured others aren't so lucky. One indicator of the danger of all this dumping are the poisoned Orca whales.

The most contaminated wildlife on Earth—killer whales in the Pacific Northwest—are picking up nearly all their chemicals from Chinook salmon in polluted ocean waters off the West Coast, according to a new scientific study.

The whales, which feed in coastal waters from British Columbia's Queen Charlotte Islands to the San Francisco area, were declared an endangered species in the United States and Canada after their numbers shrank...
Their summer habitat around Puget Sound is "a hot spot for PCBs" as well as "lots of other contaminants," including dioxins and chlorinated pesticides, Ross said. The Chinook salmon they eat inhabit ocean waters and rivers polluted by agriculture, pulp mills, other industries, military bases and urban runoff.

Mike Taugher in the Contra Costa Times reports that the previous rulings to protect the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta smelt are being felt by the agri-business giants in the Westlands Water District. The LA Times had the story on Dec 16, 2008 about how Federal wildlife officials will cut water flows to Southern California from the Delta. Now the water thirsty district is feeling the new restrictions.

The skies are producing more rain and snow than expected over Northern California, but it will not be enough to dramatically improve chances of avoiding a severe drought year that could force Contra Costa residents to ration water and already is affecting farmers' planting plans.

Depleted reservoirs, a snowpack that still is expected to be about one-third lower than average after the clouds blow away and a raft of new water rules meant to revive collapsing fish populations are combining to severely pinch water supplies.

The nation's largest irrigation district, the 600,000-acre Westlands Water District, told growers this week it expected to get zero Delta water this year, something that has never happened before.

The Contra Costa Water District, preparing for the possibility that it will receive less than half of the water needed for residential customers, is buying water from farmers in the region but still could be forced to ration water.

On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which supplies water to the Contra Costa Water District, Westlands and others, announced its reservoirs are about one-third full, about half the normal level this time of year.

Stop suction mining

So it seems incredible that in the creeks and tributaries of the state's major rivers where salmon lay their eggs, suction gold mine dredging continues under regulations that are now 15 years old. These rules are badly out of date and inadequate to protect dwindling number of fish.

NOAA 8 Part Plan to Restore Orca Populations (Jan 2008)

Prey Availability: Support salmon restoration efforts in the region including habitat...
Vessel Effects:
Oil Spills: Prevent oil spills and improve response preparation to minimize effects on Southern Residents and their habitat in the event of a spill.
Acoustic Effects: minimize potential impacts from anthropogenic sound.
Education and Outreach: Enhance public awareness, educate the public on actions they can participate in to conserve killer whales and improve reporting of Southern Resident killer whale sightings and strandings.
Response to Sick, Stranded, Injured Killer Whales:
Transboundary and Interagency Coordination:
Research and Monitoring:

This screams out for action. I'm no expert on water treatment plants, but it seems like building some of these as well as desalinization plants would be a better option than continuing the dumping of waste water into streams and rivers. The desalination plants would be for Southern California so that they don't need Northern California to float down billions of gallons each year. It should be an easy sell to Republicans who are worried about America losing our competitiveness with other countries. They need to see what the UAE is doing!

Desalination Plants wiki

Large-scale desalination typically uses large amounts of energy as well as specialized, expensive infrastructure, making it very costly compared to the use of fresh water from rivers or groundwater. The large energy reserves of many Middle Eastern countries, along with their relative water scarcity, have led to extensive construction of desalination in this region. By mid-2007, Middle Eastern desalination accounted for close to 75% of total world capacity.

The world's largest desalination plant is the Jebel Ali Desalination Plant (Phase 2) in the United Arab Emirates. It is a dual-purpose facility that uses multi-stage flash distillation and is capable of producing 300 million cubic meters of water per year, or about 2500 gallons (1 Gallon US = 3.785 litres) of water per second. The largest desalination plant in the United States is the one at Tampa Bay, Florida, which began desalinizing 25 million gallons (95000 m³) of water per day in December 2007. The Tampa Bay plant runs at around 12% the output of the Jebel Ali Desalination Plants.

If I'm reading this website right the desalination plant cost around $550M to build, but the larger cost was the $1.7B Power Plant to power the desalination. Building this type of thing in Southern California would probably not be a shovel ready project, but certainly would qualify as a long term investment in infrastructure. Ideally it wouldn't be that far from shovel ready. The contract for Dubai's Desal plant was awarded in Feb '07 and the plant is expected to be comissioned in '09.

To catch up on Salmon News please check my previous diaries
George Bush's Presidency All Bad? Poll + Salmon News
"This is the Beacon for Hope and The Fish Are Gone"
A Christmas Miracle: A Million Salmon Saved + Harry Reid
George Bush helps the Environment?!? + Deadly Salmon Infections

and if you only read one read this one
Salmon Bailout, Orcas Dying, Sea Lion Scapegoats

UPDATE: Add to the What Now List:
Changing from water intensive agriculture like cotton to hemp

Books to read about water wars: Cadillac Desert

Originally posted to CornSyrupAwareness on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 05:33 PM PST.


Which American caused the most damage from 1976-Current

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| 59 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips/Recs/Flames/Suggestions/Recipes/Pics/Videos? (21+ / 0-)

    Any and all comments will be appreciated.

    [ Let Rick Warren Raise Money for LGBT Equality at Obama's Inauguration]

    by CornSyrupAwareness on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 05:33:27 PM PST

  •  Funny Salmon Video (4+ / 0-)

    Vladislaw pointed me towards this one ;)

    [ Let Rick Warren Raise Money for LGBT Equality at Obama's Inauguration]

    by CornSyrupAwareness on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 05:35:04 PM PST

    •  Some restoration is planned (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      djpat, esquimaux, CornSyrupAwareness

      After a 20-year battle by the National 'Resources Defense Council, there's legislation now to restore the salmon in the San Joaquin River, recognizing that a dam built with federal aid has unlawfully caused the river to run dry in places and destroyed the great salmon runs of the past.


      The restoration would send water down about 27 miles of the river that often is dry as a result of irrigation and construction of Friant Dam six decades ago. But the plan is a long way from being a done deal....
      The legislation writes into federal law a settlement reached last year in an 18-year-old lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council over the degradation of the river.


      [Congressman Jim] Costa said the settlement envisions a future salmon run of 10,000 fish. But he said there also are many other benefits to Central California...."While the goal is a spring run, the water users' goal is certainty of supply."  Without the settlement, Costa said, decisions about how to restore the river would be thrust into the hands of federal judges.

      •  what about those that built on river beds? (0+ / 0-)

        this sounds confusing but hopeful!

        [ Let Rick Warren Raise Money for LGBT Equality at Obama's Inauguration]

        by CornSyrupAwareness on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 06:43:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Costly lawsuits stopped proposed (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          building in the river bed.  The main issue now is amending plans for large communities near the river which want to dump treated wastewater into the river.  I recently heard a talk about the river's history and the restoration plans, which are very practical.  2012 is the date for the first salmon run.

  •  Water wars have always been (6+ / 0-)

    a part of the west. Even if the climate weren't changing the competing demands of the environment, agriculture and a growing population would be reaching a point where something has to give. There is no way to achieve a compromise that will make all the parties happy. There simply isn't enough water to go around.

    •  Yup (0+ / 0-)

      It's quite a task to even think about covering all the interested parties, history of water conflicts, proposals etc. However there is something to be said about being more efficient in using what water we do have. For example I was paying attention to Alabama's house races and our Dem candidate in AL-03 would constantly talk about water infrastructure. He described how Alabama has droughts that devastate agriculture, yet Alabama gets more rainfall than most states.

      [ Let Rick Warren Raise Money for LGBT Equality at Obama's Inauguration]

      by CornSyrupAwareness on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 05:46:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  And it really (6+ / 0-)

    drives me crazy that the Governator vetoed the hemp bill, which takes less water, etc.  Damn cotton industry.  Seriously, this just drives me crazy.

    Chronic Share a new community for people wanting to share their experiences with chronic illness.

    by Ellinorianne on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 05:43:37 PM PST

    •  Governator was voted "Outdoor Villain of the Year (6+ / 0-)

      National magazines and the corporate media have often lauded Governor Arnold Schwarzeegger for being the "Green Governor." By failing to research how Schwarzenegger has actually governed since taking office in California in fall 2003, these publications have accepted at face value the constant stream of photos, press releases, video clips and other propaganda from the Governor’s office that portray the former actor as the "green energy" guru.

      Schwarzenegger’s face has graced magazine covers depicting him as the voice of "responsible" environmentalism in spite of his abysmal record in regards to fish and the environment. While Schwarzenegger jets off to one "green energy" and "climate change" conference after another throughout the country, his environmental policies have brought salmon and other fish species to the brink of extinction.

      Finally, the editors of a national magazine, Field & Stream, have refused to join the cult of Schwarzenegger worshippers and have bestowed the Governor with the well-deserved top honors in this year’s "Heroes & Villains Face-Off – as a villain." The magazine is blasting the "Fish Terminator" for slashing funding for salmon and steelhead restoration, attempting to close many state parks and recreational areas, and presiding over the collapse of Central Valley fall chinook salmon.

      [ Let Rick Warren Raise Money for LGBT Equality at Obama's Inauguration]

      by CornSyrupAwareness on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 05:47:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Was going to say. (4+ / 0-)

      Hemp uses less water, and it also can produce up to 4x as much paper as forest... which I don't recommend killing anyway.

      That is all. Individually, I wish you the best, but collectively, my dearest hope is to outlive you - groovetronica

      by Nulwee on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 05:52:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Cotton Uses 1/4 The Pesticide In World (6+ / 0-)

    Of all insecticides used globally each year, the estimated amount used on traditional cotton: 25%.

    If you think the worst drought-cycle since the Middle Ages should be ignored, hey, turn down salmon and the land for growing more cotton.

    That is all. Individually, I wish you the best, but collectively, my dearest hope is to outlive you - groovetronica

    by Nulwee on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 05:51:57 PM PST

  •  From a salmon perspective (5+ / 0-)

    I'd say Charles Hurwitz has done the most damage.

    •  We need more people thinking from that perspectiv (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wezelboy, justCal

         * Texas corporate raider Charles Hurwitz, with the help of junk-bond broker and convicted felon Michael Milken, looted and crashed a Savings and Loan, United Savings Association of Texas (USAT), costing U.S. taxpayers a staggering $1.6 billion!
         * With looted money funneled from the S & L, Hurwitz engaged in a hostile takeover of the Pacific Lumber Company, commenced rabid clearcutting, and tripled the rate of logging of the world's largest stands of privately held ancient redwood forests, including Headwaters Forest, a precious, sacred and irreplaceable international treasure of the ages.
         * Hurwitz simultaneously raided Pacific Lumber's worker pension fund, removing $55 million from the retired loggers and millworkers' nest egg, and began raping the company, selling off much of it's other liquitable assets for the quick cash he needed to make his pressing junk bond payments.
         * Hurwitz had previously looted the Simplicity Pattern worker pension fund in 1982, reducing worker benefits by nearly $4000 per year.
         * Hurwitz has entered into out-of-court settlements for insurance fraud, securities violations and a land swindleof his own company's shareholders! Hurwitz has lost seven environmental lawsuits over his incessant, illegal logging in these ancient redwood forests of Northern California.

      [ Let Rick Warren Raise Money for LGBT Equality at Obama's Inauguration]

      by CornSyrupAwareness on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 05:56:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Consider Hurwitz Banker (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Michael Milken.

      Hurwitz wasn't his only client and salmon weren't his one victims.

  •  The Desalinization Plant Is Necessary Anyway (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rex Manning, CornSyrupAwareness

    unless you want to outlaw watering lawns in Southern California.

    Fortunately, there's better energy technology, like solar and wave and wind, to help power that desalinization. Eventually, we'll probably find a way of making that energy much more potent.

    That is all. Individually, I wish you the best, but collectively, my dearest hope is to outlive you - groovetronica

    by Nulwee on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 05:55:48 PM PST

    •  Not that getting rid of lawns in Socal (4+ / 0-)

      is a bad idea.

      That is all. Individually, I wish you the best, but collectively, my dearest hope is to outlive you - groovetronica

      by Nulwee on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 05:56:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm kind of in a difficult spot on that one (0+ / 0-)

        Being an avid golfer, I have trouble telling anyone to get rid of grass plots, though I'd often like to tell people to do things that I'm unwilling. The golden rule is hard to apply!

        [ Let Rick Warren Raise Money for LGBT Equality at Obama's Inauguration]

        by CornSyrupAwareness on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 05:58:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm Not Being Overliteral There. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wezelboy, CornSyrupAwareness

          Socal has a lack of greenspace. Severe lack of greenspace. I'm not saying you have to bust the Wilshire Country Club.

          What you do is build denser, and destroy a lot of those wasteful neighborhood residential developments so that people can actually have an affordable opportunity to live within 1-4 miles of work, if they so choose.

          Then, you take a significant portions of that remaining land... like half mile long by 1 acre wide, and create wide lawns, basketball courts, tennis courts, wildlife habitat (birding is one of the faster growing hobbies, btw) so that people actually have the opportunity to play outside, when they want to. And that land is not going to waste.

          LA is actually more dense than people usually think, but Riverside, Bakersfield, San Diego, virtually all of Socal lacks pedestrian-greenspace.

          That is all. Individually, I wish you the best, but collectively, my dearest hope is to outlive you - groovetronica

          by Nulwee on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 06:03:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Maybe that will come about (0+ / 0-)

            when the tumble weeds are blowing through the suburban malls.

            •  Well (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I also didn't mention the brownsites, junk yards, undeveloped lots (they do exist in the suburbs) and empty commercial space. It's by no means purely commercial, and it would be nice to have a well-maintained greenspace even on the edge between chapparl/desert and the residential community... for obvious reasons.

              You don't have to literally wait until those plots are abandoned though. The problem is that the state/cities are strapped for cash, not a lack of need. Then again, states like California and New York need to get some serious reinvestment from the federal government for their tax dollars.

              If there was federal incentive (job creation and urban renewal) available foreclosed properties or businesses going under could see off their land if the government could create a plan for it... most great parks start off smaller than the result. All of the waterfront parks in Manhattan weren't gifted from the land genie.

              That is all. Individually, I wish you the best, but collectively, my dearest hope is to outlive you - groovetronica

              by Nulwee on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 06:19:44 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I wonder what will happen (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                with the over built real estate tracts that are too far from anything and are now all in foreclosure. I can't imagine them plowing them under, but that is probably what needs to happen.

                Out hole country is built on the notion of conspicuous consumption. At the end of WWII the oil, tire and car companies conspired to get trolley lines torn out and freeways put in. Now we are scrambling for the money to build a few LRV lines. I really doubt that the US is going to have the money to do it over right.  

              •  The problem with this... (0+ / 0-)

                A lot of this land is contaminated.

                No one can do anything with it (from a legal perspective)

        •  You could always take up put put (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lemming22, Richard Lyon

          the amount of water wasted on Golf courses is just insane.

          The Southwest is in a long drought, recreational activities should be the first things cut. Golf courses don't add much they don't bring many jobs and have an unsustainable environmental impact considering the little benefit they provide.

        •  Grass lawns (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pletzs, Richard Lyon

          are just as bad as anything you have outlined in your diary.  Miles and miles of chemlawn, providing no bio diversity, providing no sustainance for bees and other wildlife, and using up h20.  And all just for some strange corporate-suburban aesthetic--quite a good reason to wreck the environment.  And golf courses take this to a horrible X-treme. At least the farms are producing food.  

          You should go back to golfing the way the Scots started it, on the natural landscape.  Give up your addiction to the useless green deserts known as lawns, and gain more credibility in your opinions on the environment.

          •  I'd be unemployed (0+ / 0-)

            You should go back to golfing the way the Scots started it, on the natural landscape.

            That doesn't exist.. so you want me to quit?

            Give up your addiction to the useless green deserts known as lawns, and gain more credibility in your opinions on the environment.

            I doubt I'd gain credibility by boycotting one of the biggest parts of my life, which would result in nothing.
            Golf is my living. Also as an individual golfer I have no say in the tens of thousands of courses that are in this and neighboring states. I mostly just go to one course, which isn't going anywhere. Also, there's plenty of water up here in No. California. If you check that map we're shipping our water down to So. Cal. (Where tens of millions live in an area that can not be self sufficient)

            [ Let Rick Warren Raise Money for LGBT Equality at Obama's Inauguration]

            by CornSyrupAwareness on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 11:30:46 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I know its not COMPLETELY without merit (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              but the bees don't like the lawns, especially the super-manicured ones on golf courses or in most of suburbia.  (They don't like the GM crops or anywhere roundup is sprayed either, so the lawns are only part of the problem.)  

              Part of the solution, in my view, will certainly be converting about half to 2/3rd of the lawns we maintain on this planet to diverse fields of flowers, berrys, etc.  I don't mind golfing, and exercise is good, but survival is the best of all.

              As far as "would result in nothing":  1. of course you'll never succeed if you don't first believe, 2.  those with experience and/or something to lose DO have more credibility than others,  3. all politics (and activism) is local and 4. reality is fractal, so you may have a bigger effect on things than you think.

    •  I remember during the big (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rex Manning, CornSyrupAwareness

      drought in the 70s there was a scheme to tow icebergs from Antarctica.

    •  Let's Outlaw Watering Lawns in SC eom (0+ / 0-)
  •  Stop having green grassy lawns. If you live in (5+ / 0-)

    a place that can't support the type of lawn you have naturally you need to do a better job landscaping.

    60-80% of Residential Water use is used on lawns in the Southwest. Then lets not even get started on the ridiculous number of Gulf courses in Southern California and Arizona.

    Stopping big industries from stealing and wasting water will require regulation. Stopping people from wasting water in their own neighborhood just requires a little outreach.

    •  See My Comment Above. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There's no human right to lawns. If you live in a desert, you do forfeit some water privileges!

      That is all. Individually, I wish you the best, but collectively, my dearest hope is to outlive you - groovetronica

      by Nulwee on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 05:59:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I was reading something on what the Australians (3+ / 0-)

        are doing. They've started putting in Astroturf and done a better job landscaping for the environment. If Americans want to see how to avoid and cope with a long drought we need to look towards Australia they're a few years ahead of where it seems the rest of us are going.

        We might as well get a head start now so we'll be better off in the long run.

  •  Cadillac Desert (8+ / 0-)

    is an excellent book on the history of water policy.

  •  Global Warming and California Salmon... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nulwee, FishOutofWater, Richard Lyon

    Even here in British Columbia Salmon runs are dropping as they go further north to get into colder waters. It's unlikely that California Salmon are going to be around much longer given increasing global water temperatures.

    Watch that fishy swim - north.

  •  Desalination by traditional methods (4+ / 0-)

    will cause energy problems which will in turn cause greenhouse gas problems.

    More efficient use of water is a better approach.

    "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 06:25:35 PM PST

  •  Ocean desal (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As currently proposed in places like Carlsbad and Huntington Beach is a phenemonally expensive and inefficient method of obtaining water, which simultaneously kills sealife as it pulls water into the process and creates saline dead zones with its outfall.

    As we run out of fossil fuels, the process becomes vastly more expensive and less economical. Other than isolated areas, it's not something that makes any economic sense at all.

    Better solutions abound, most of them on the demand side instead of the supply side.

    First and foremost is cutting out waste in residential landscaping. This starts with applying the appropriate amount of water to existing landscapes instead of setting the defaults on automatic sprinkler systems, but expands to addition of trees to every landscape and gradual replacement of most lawns with native plants that naturalize and require no additional irrigation after they are established. Over half of our water is used on residential landscape, and as much as half of that is wasted.

    Over half of my own yard requires no exterior irrigation and the balance is devoted to growing fruit, food, herbs, and a small area for roses. Most of the runoff from my yard percolates back into the soil instead of running off into the ocean.

    On the supply side, recycling sewage provides a safe pure supply of ultra-pure water at a much better price than ocean desal. In Orange County, the OCWD has opened the world's largest water reclamation plant to help protect and  refill our water basin as supplies. There's no reason this technology shouldn't be used everywhere in the Southwest.

    Finally, the most important thing we can be doing is sending appropriate price signals for water usage, similar to that used for years by the Irvine Ranch Water District, where every user has a water budget tied to the actual needs of landscape, and users are charged different rates based on their usage, with punitive rates for the most wasteful users and conservation rates for the thriftiest. Money from the penalty rates is used for additional conservation programs. Unfortunately, extension of this system is blocked by prop 218 which requires that user fees be tied directly to the cost of providing services rather than considering additional goals like conservation.

    Golf courses, by the way, are for the most part, very efficiently irrigated, and although they are a tragic waste of public park resources, they don't really play any role in the state's water problem.

    Artificial turf is an abomination - a lifeless petroleum product that will help to kill our planet.

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